HacDC, based out of a church in Columbia Heights, is a sort of a co-op space for tinkerers, with about 25 members paying monthly dues of $50 to rent out the 600-square-foot space. For the money, members get round-the-clock access to the space and its collection of donated tools. Non-members are also welcome to hang out.
These guys are hackers, perhaps, but not in the bad, steal-your-passwords meaning of the word. Hacking, in the HacDC sense, refers to the act of tearing into the latest technology to build or do something not originally intended by a device's creators. A couple of years ago, I wrote about a guy who'd figured out how to wirelessly control his Roomba vacuum cleaner with a Nintendo DS. That's the sort of activity we're talking about here.
"Hacking is about discovering possibilities," said Nick Farr, the group's founder. "It's what Benjamin Franklin did. It's what Thomas Edison did."
"It's about taking control of technology, rather than taking what the consumer electronics industry decides to give you," Collins said. "I believe you need to take control of technology -- or it controls you."